What Is a Soup Kettle?

Misty Amber Brighton

A soup kettle is a type of pot designed to cook large amounts of soup or stew. It may be a tall cooking vessel with a flat bottom and lid. This kettle could also resemble a cauldron and two to four small feet and a somewhat indented lid. One of these hotpots is typically made of aluminum or cast iron and may have aluminum handles on either side. This kettle is typically used on a stove top, but an electric kettle may be used on a countertop or table.

Large soup kettles may come with a very long-handled ladle so cooks can reach the bottom of the pot.
Large soup kettles may come with a very long-handled ladle so cooks can reach the bottom of the pot.

One popular type of soup kettle consists of a tall aluminum pot. This model is primarily used on top of a kitchen stove. A pot such as this is normally cylinder-shaped and flat on the bottom. The lid normally has a rim around the outside edge which allows it to sit securely on top of the kettle. In addition to cooking soup, this vessel could be used for boiling water, cooking pasta, and for other cooking needs.

Soup kettles are usually designed to be used on a stove top.
Soup kettles are usually designed to be used on a stove top.

Another type of kettle somewhat resembles a cauldron. This electric soup kettle may have small feet along the bottom which keep it from sitting flat on a surface. It contains an electrical cord on the back of it, which allows it to be used on a countertop. Cauldron soup kettles may be made from cast iron rather than aluminum. Some models may have an adjustable temperature control so the device can be used for both cooking soup and keeping it warm.

These pots come in many different sizes. A traditional soup kettle may hold anywhere from six to 10 quarts (5.42 to 9.5 l) of stew. Commercial hotpots may hold as much as 12 quarts (10.84 l) of soup. Larger soup warmers may come with a very long-handled ladle so cooks can easily reach the bottom of the pot. Some models may have a slot for placing the ladle when not in use. This is common on smaller electric kettles, which are designed to be portable.

A soup kettle can be a handy item to have when making any type of soup because it usually heats evenly, allowing the ingredients to cook thoroughly without burning. Metal pots such as these also help keep the finished product hot for some time after it has been cooked. Should the contents need to be re-heated, it can easily be done whether the unit is placed on the stove or plugged into an electrical outlet.

A soup kettle can hold as many as 12 quarts of food.
A soup kettle can hold as many as 12 quarts of food.

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Discussion Comments


Does anyone use a tea kettle anymore?

Reading about soup kettles reminds me of tea kettles that used to be so common. When I got married I remembered most everyone received at least one tea kettle for a wedding present.

Now it seems like people don't use these tea kettles very often. Most think it is much quicker to use the microwave.

Maybe it is because this is what I grew up with, but when I want some hot water for tea or hot chocolate, I prefer to use my whistle kettle. This always lets me know when the water is ready for a good cup of tea.

I can see how a soup kettle would also be a good item for the kitchen. I think it would also be good for large batches of spaghetti sauce. Having a large kettle that heats foods like that evenly is a big plus.

There is nothing worse than a big pot of soup where the bottom is burned and the top is not even heated through yet.


I remember growing up with a cast iron soup kettle that seemed to stay on top of the stove much of the winter.

At least once a week we would have soup made with just about anything in the refrigerator that needed to be used up.

My mom didn't throw much of anything away. Even if there was a tiny dab of something left, she would somehow find a use for it.

As kids we weren't too excited about leftover soup night, but now I remember that as being some of the best soup I ever had.

My mom would have been lost without her soup kettle that she used so often. It was nice to have a large kettle that would hold a large amount for our big family.


My mom has a portable electric soup kettle that she uses all the time and loves. She loves to cook and to give food to other people so anytime we have a family outing, barbecue or get together, she'll take some soup or chili in a soup kettle with her.

She doesn't cook in the kettle but uses it to keep the soup or chili warm. Once soup cools down, it's hard to reheat which is not possible when you're outdoors. She also takes food to church gatherings and our church doesn't have a kitchen to prepare or reheat food.

It's a really convenient kitchen item I think. I can't imagine what my mom would do without it. The one we have is a stainless steel kettle which is probably the best kind because stainless steel distributes heat very evenly. The chili does stick to the bottom after a couple of hours, but it's not hard to clean if we keep it in water later. Maybe a Teflon soup kettle might be better for that.

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